You cannot get an annulment just because your marriage was very short. To get an annulment, you need to prove that your marriage is either  “void” or “voidable”.  If you were not legally allowed to marry in the first place and the state will never approve such a marriage, it is called a “void” marriage.  If you were not legally permitted to marry because of a particular problem, but the state will allow you to choose to remain married, you have a “voidable” marriage.

Each of these categories has very specific requirements. You must prove not only that the marriage was void or voidable but that that is the reason you are asking for an annulment - you cannot just use it as an excuse if you are actually leaving for another reason.

Void marriages

Your marriage is void if:

One of you was already married to someone else. On the annulment complaint form, this is called “bigamy.” But if the person asking for the annulment knew their spouse was already married before they married them, then they must request a divorce and not an annulment.

You have married a close relative or a close relative by marriage. On the annulment form, this is called “Incest, Consanguinity and Affinity.”   In Massachusetts you may not marry your grandparents, stepgrandparents, parents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, children, or grandchildren. You also cannot marry your spouse’s parents, grandparents, children, and grandchildren.

Exceptions:  A man may marry his son’s wife. A woman is not allowed to marry her daughter’s husband, but she may marry her husband’s father.

Voidable marriages

Your marriage is voidable if:

One of the spouses did not have the mental capacity to consent to the marriage at the time. For example, a spouse may have been drunk or mentally ill.

One of the spouses is not physically capable of sexual intercourse.

One of the spouses was not old enough to get married. In Massachusetts, you need to be 18 years old to get married, unless you have the permission of your parents and the court.

There was fraud involved in getting married. The Massachusetts courts are very strict, and will only annul a marriage for a fraud that goes to the heart of the marriage itself.  Historically, annulments for fraud were focused on sexual relations and the ability to have children.  Courts have also been willing to find fraud where one person had purely ulterior motives for entering into the marriage. For example, one person may have thought they were marrying for love, but the other person was only marrying them for immigration reasons. Many deceptive or fraudulent acts, however, will not be grounds for an annulment. Additionally, if you knew or should have known of the fraudulent conduct, an annulment will not be granted.